About 6 months ago, I first read about Ketamine Infusion as a treatment for depression, anxiety, and pain. While I’m leery of our societies knee jerk reaction to putting people on antipsychotics, I’m not nor ever been against responsible medication use. ‘Responsible’ being the optimal word. The statistics are clear that medications are not the cure and sometimes even cause more suffering. Yet, they also help many people. There is NO shame in trying whatever you need in order to find relief.
When I first read about ketamine infusion therapy, something inside jumped for joy. I don’t know why, but it did. As I began to study the various medical studies, as few as they might be, I grew more and more hopeful that this might help some of the people I knew were suffering daily with mental illness and possibly concussion-related mental illness as well. So I watched, waited, read, and even considered opening a clinic myself.
In a chance meeting, I was introduced to a professional who was also interested in ketamine. After that meeting, he called and asked if I could meet with him again. What he didn’t say was that he arranged for his good friend who happened to just open a ketamine infusion clinic in South Ogden which is my neck of the woods. When we met, I drilled this new business owner, Chris Weston, on everything his clinic, Therapy Reset, was doing and not doing. I wanted him to be a success. I was so impressed with him and his clinic that I started telling people about it.
Fast forward to 3 weeks ago. I received a call from a dear friend whose 18 year old daughter had overdosed and was in the hospital. I was shocked. I was invited to the hospital to see her. I love this young lady and had no idea she struggled with suicidal ideation. After visiting, I talked to her mom about ketamine infusion therapy. Because they lived so far from the clinic, I offered to have her stay with me while she did the ketamine treatments. Her parents felt good about it and so that’s what we did. The difference for this girl has been remarkable.
On to my story….
It’s my understanding that ketamine infused via IV drip heals the neural pathways that have been damaged from trauma, PTSD, stress, mental illness, and even concussion. No one seems to know exactly why it works but several professionals who have been treating patients for up to 10 years have remarkable stories with 70 – 80% cure rates. Yes, I said cure. This is not a lifetime treatment. In most cases, it’s a 6 treatment protocol over a 6 week period. Of course, there are situations were boosters have been required. The standard is six treatments with no reoccurring symptoms.
The University of Utah Hospital, a teaching institution, has used ketamine to treat some who visit their ER with suicide ideation. With a single treatment, the patient generally feels well enough to go home. They have charged somewhere around $700 a treatment. There is no evidence that 1 treatment is sufficient and so I find this irresponsible but share it to show that ketamine is being used by doctors to treat mental illness and ideation.
I decided I would do the protocol…..
I was a bit worried. I wondered why I was doing this. I thought maybe I was experimenting when I shouldn’t be but the minute my family practitioner wrote my referral, I started wondering if I truly needed this. Do you know how you feel when you’ve gone through a traumatic experience and feel alone when a friend shows up and you fall apart? That’s how I started feeling. I felt like the cavalry was coming. I realized that I had extremely efficient coping skills but I was exhausted. I have so much I want to do but also losing the desire to do anything. This scared me.
Losing Hannah to suicide, watching my family struggle, grieving, all of it has taken a toll. In addition, I understand how we create grooves in our brains – sorry for the lack of medical jargon here – that set our patterns. We come to expect and see what we expect to see. I see it all the time in others. They continually recreate the same issues in their lives. Usually, they blame others. Not only is it hard to change those patterns, but they are also extremely difficult to identify in the first place. If ketamine could fix that!?!?!?!? I definitely wanted it.
Thursday at 2:30, I found myself in ‘the comfy chair’ with my arms bared and a nurse anesthetist looking over my veins deciding which one to use. Once located, she started the IV. I was also hooked up to something that monitored my heart and breathing and probably other things I wasn’t aware of. They explained that everyone seems to have a slightly different experience. They warned me that I might cry or talk through the entire process without realizing that I was talking. I was excited. I wasn’t scared. I was open to the experience. It was either going to work or not. I felt safe with this group because I witnessed first hand
“You’re going to feel tingling,” they warned. Yep, I felt tingling and then slowly felt the inability to form words or even desire to talk. The room was darkened. The staff informed me they would be staying in the room. The sounds of the ocean were turned on and I slowly faded out.
I’m a Trekkie. The best way to describe what happened next is I slipped into a wormhole and went for a wild ride. It was loud. At one point, I was nervous and I heard two words, “Trust, relax.” Later, I confirmed that no one in that room said those words to me. So, I must have said them to myself. I must have listened to myself because I went on to have a wonderful experience. I continued to travel through what seemed to be space. At one point I questioned what reality was and if I had somehow left the earth. It was a twisting roller coaster of a ride with a light show. At one point, a dragon formed and starred at me. I just starred back and it left. At one point, I was aware enough to choose to float and relax. That was the highlight of the experience.
I had my eyes closed the entire time. I can see how some might be frightened. Ultimately I was not hurt in any way. I woke up slowly after 20 minutes of the actual ketamine treatment. It took about 30 minutes to stop spinning and be able to talk. Once I did, we spoke for a bit. Then, I got up and went home. The entire appointment took 90 minutes.
My instructions were clear. Go home and rest. I wasn’t allowed to drive home. Sure glad I followed those directions and had my husband there with me! There was no way I was present enough to drive.
At home, I laid down but I didn’t want to. Well, my body did but I felt so good emotionally that I wanted to get up and do things. I resisted and followed directions. I noticed the absence of any worry, anxiety. It was gone. I was happy. Not everyone has quick results but I certainly did. My head hurt on and off just a tad which I would expect. I questioned if this was just a side effect of being drugged. I was told that it took about 6 hours for the drug to completely leave my body. I drank a ton of water and just enjoyed the peace. I figured the next day would be the test. Then I fell asleep
The next day I woke up refreshed. I had the best nights rest I could remember in a long time and I had my trusty Fitbit to prove it! Straightway I got out of bed and got dressed. That was very different. I love my lazy sweats but always feel they represent my dowdy insides. I started laundry. I kept up my ketamine journal. Still no anxiety. No worry about anything, just action. And I was peaceful and happy.
As the day wore on, I began to feel tired. I started wondering if this was a temporary fix. And I noticed that those thoughts were a bit anxious. I spoke with the director of the clinic and he assured me that this is how it goes for most and that the first week can be a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts. I decided to let the experts direct me. I decided to trust.
I had a great day. I have to say, I was surprised by how good I felt. If I felt like that most of the time, what a difference! I sad part is that I had no idea how much I lived with anxiety. Yes, I have great coping skills. Yet, none that brought the peace I felt. Was I just high for a day? Maybe the first day but not on day two.
Day three – I can feel my brain slipping back to its norm. What the experts recommend is to act on what I want to do even if I don’t feel like it. I think what they are saying is it’s time to create and support new neural networks. I’ll follow directions to the best of my ability.
Today? Well, I’ll be tidying up my shirt category and taking those bags with my already 5 bags to charity.
Next session is this coming Friday. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m hopeful.
****Please understand I am doing this medically in order to receive consistent safe product and have it medically monitored and documented. It’s a very small amount in comparison to what most recreational users are taking. I am in no way advocating casual recreational use of this drug. There is no way to guarantee the safety, purity, efficacy of street drugs. Please be wise in your healing journey. Self-medicating is self -harm. Please do no harm to yourself or others.